Suicide Squad may not be the end of the DC Extended Universe (they've invested far too much to stop now), but it does hurt it, really, really bad. We're three movies in and not only are all of them duds, but Man Of Steel, a film that courted so much controversy in 2013 and led to a three year gap to ensure things were right going forward, remains the best.
Yes, as early word suggested, Suicide Squad is a massive disappointment, one that means we now need Wonder Woman (which has hope), Justice League (which is iffy) and Aquaman (Flash was pushed back, but at least we have fish jokes) to all hit hard to even be able to call this doomed franchise average. And based on the problems here, that doesn't seem likely.
The scariest thing watching the film was how much it reminded me of Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (this is better, but only just). The exact same problems that plagued that film are here; copious flashbacks in favour of a coherent narrative (the first act is a jumble of set-up vignettes and backstory), vision sequences that lucidly come out of nowhere (seriously - there's a moment that feels inspired by that damned Knightmare scene) and completely illogical pacing that would make any competent editor hurl. That these same issues have come from two films from totally different auteur's seems to suggest there's something seriously up at Warner Bros.
This was meant to be the off-kilter refresh after two massive tentpoles, and, even when it wound up with the weight of a franchise on its shoulders after Batman V Superman underperformed, everything in the marketing promised a darkly vibrant movie. None of the tone of those teasers is here though, and the film we're left with is just a murky sea of scant scenes connected by the odd few trailer scenes.
The rushed attempt at a story is paper thin, with the conception of a team of supervillains poorly argued and the motivations for their activation flippant, and once that's done it's time for a run of fight scenes in increasingly generic locales with barely clear purpose. That action is choppy, all mid-shots and unclear choreography, although it's really just a symptom of wider editing issues; pacing is all over the shop (that old 2016 chesnut) and shot continuity seems to be an alien concept.
Because of all that, the whole movie winds up feeling top heavy; at the start there's an illusion of grungy irreverence, but that's lost by the mid-way point for droll cliché. Perhaps most disappointing in that regard is the use of music, with various pop beats scoring sequences to make this feel like an MTV throwback. But what seems cool at first falls apart when the song choices are so on-the-nose; Sympathy For The Devil plays to introduce a villain and the film accidentally evokes Guardians Of The Galaxy with Spirit In The Skies. It's groan-inducing (especially when it too is dropped in the third act in place of thudding generic action movie themes, solidifying nobody quite knew what the film was trying to be).
Even if you can overlook all of that (seems crazy to think, but so many managed to find some joy in Batman V Superman), however, I'm afraid there's sadly little to enjoy from a comic book standpoint either.